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Swedes 'best in the world' at English - again

Oliver Gee · 7 Nov 2013, 11:41

Published: 07 Nov 2013 11:41 GMT+01:00

It's time to stop teasing the Swedes for their Swenglish, as they've yet again topped English Proficiency Index from language education company Education First (EF), which was founded in Sweden. 

"It's the second time in a row, so I guess we're a bit used to it, but of course it's really neat that we are the world leaders when it comes to speaking English," Sine Ejsing, Country Manager of EF Sweden, told The Local.

The language test quizzed 750,000 people from 60 countries around the world, and the Nordic nations scored prominently, with Norway placing second, followed by the Netherlands, Estonia, Denmark, Austria and Finland.

So why are Swedes so good at English?

"There are several reasons," explained Ejsing. "We learn early in school, there are TV and radio shows in English, even commercials... but even outside of school English is considered to be a high status language, kids think it's cool. And it helps that English is also Germanic-based."

This year was the second consecutive time Sweden finished in first place in the ranking, with Norway snagging the crown the year before. This year's results reflect a number of changes to how EF collects data on people's English-language skills, for the first time including test results from Estonia, Slovenia, Latvia, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Jordan, and Iraq.

The test itself was based on a half-hour adaptive exam online, with the possibility of doing a 70-question non-adaptive test, meaning questions are not adjusted based on a participant's previous answers.

See also: Ten English words you didn't know came from Swedish.

So does this mean Swenglish is a thing of the past?

Story continues below…

"I don't know think so. While we are number one, we're not English-speaking natives," Ejsing responded with a laugh. "But there is definitely still evidence of  Swedes mixing up words like 'chips' and 'ships', but on the other hand, we do tend to create our own words like googla and padda. Swedish is a really small language, and we know we have to speak another language to communicate with the world," she told The Local.

"But while it's interesting to see how we're good in English, Swedes are not great when it comes to speaking a third language, and this is something we have to focus on."

Want to test your own English and be involved in the company's next study? Click here.

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Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

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